weekly review – more cleaning and clearing

A normal week this week so I finished work on Wednesday night and then did a bit of a shop in Sainsbury’s taking advantage of any items on offer – so now one of those huge 1kg tubs of Lurpack butter sits in my fridge as it was the only one available on offer and I never buy butter at full price.

Last time this happened we got the butter dish out of the cupboard and kept decanting slabs of butter into it.  It is actually quite nice to have a proper butter dish on the table and the saving on buying the very large size is really good at 60p for 100 grams against 75p per 100 grams for the smaller size – I might buy this size again even though it almost fills a shelf by itself!

When I came to put the food away I was too tired to do any more than just pushing it in where it would fit with the intention of sorting it out later so my first job on Thursday morning was cleaning and sorting the two fridges.

We have a small under the counter one in the kitchen now 30 years old and showing its age but still going strong and a larger one in the laundry room where we keep our vegetables, salad and fruit.  We invested in this a few years ago because our veg goes off quickly in either the kitchen or the garage.  I still store potatoes and onions in the garage though.

Whilst sorting and cleaning I decided to wash and chop some of the veg and put it into bags so that it will be ready when we want to make a meal.

I don’t usually do this but the idea came to me because we already pre-prepare a large bowl of mixed fresh fruit for our breakfast and salad for our lunch or my packed lunches.

 

So I prepared Leeks, Celery and Spring onions as I find these most time-consuming.

I keep the prepared salad in these ‘handy’ containers  – I nickname it our ‘Salad Bar’  – the deep one with 3 sections is great to take any combination of radish, cucumber, tomatoes, grated carrot, peppers etc but I would never put the chopped spring onions or beetroot in here as they would end up making the container smell or stain.  The larger square container has a plastic rack that sits on the bottom to keep the lettuce crisp and fresh and it does seem to work.

…and voila all sorted!  If this works I might try to pre prepare a lot more of our veg now I have a bit more time at home.

 

Whilst in the kitchen I moved on to cleaning the herb and spice rack.  My collection of four little chickens had become a trifle dusty and some of the herbs past their best by a few years.  I tend to use fresh herbs that have been frozen more than the dried ones so they end up well out of date before I get to the end and eventually smell and taste of very little.

 

I will need to replenish some of them and also buy some of the spices I will need for bonfire night and Christmas (I did whisper that word!).

There is something special about the taste and smell of the spices that mark this season – warming ginger for the Parkin and Ginger cake, mixed spice and cinnamon for the Christmas cake and cloves that will be used for my pomanders.

I always buy organic when I can but find that the Whole food shops sell it in bags that are far too big a quantity for us so I get the smaller packets from Waitrose.  As luck would have it a coupon has just dropped through my door for £10 off a £50 spend!  I shall make a list and maybe go on Saturday when we are out and about.

 

In between all this cleaning and clearing I managed to get our double mattress protector washed and hung on the line for a good blow before the next rain shower.

Whilst I was out in the garden I realised how much is still in flower even though summer is well and truly over.  I took a couple of pictures to capture the last of the colour – the vibrant red of the Kaffir lilies against the deep blue of the geraniums…

 

…and I just love the mustard yellow seed heads bobbing around with the finely cut Monbretia petals which are a softer orange than most and contrast well against the mauve of the hydrangea.

For anyone reading my last post about clippings these are my binders full of ideas – I even have one called Clippings – this is just a place to put any interesting newspaper and magazine articles about the area our cottage is in.  When we had the flood we hit the local newspapers!  One day soon I will go through them and try to reduce the amount.

 

 

If you have been following my recent decorating posts you will know we have just finished one bedroom and are about to start on the middle bedroom which belonged to my elder daughter and now used by my mum when she comes to stay.  So I thought I would show you the before pictures.  As you will see it is well overdue a complete overhaul.

The pictures are cheap ones bought when we ‘styled’ my mum in laws house to sell.  Rather than just take them straight to charity I put them up in here but they won’t be going back as they are not really my taste.  I might keep the silver frames and put new pictures in.

 

I am clearing the room bit by bit as the wardrobes are being dismantled to make way for new ones that will hopefully  be more space effective and only have two doors rather than three as at the moment there is always a bit you cannot get to easily creating pockets of wasted space.  Eventually this wardrobe will give mum some hanging space when she visits and hold our out of season clothes as we will be losing six drawers.

The two sets of Ikea drawers will be going up to my daughters new house with the single bed and mum will be getting a bigger double bed and this can then be used when either daughter and partners stay over too.

The retro nursing chair was my mum-in-laws – it was meant for the cottage so I am having to store it here now until the cottage is ready.  I am still undecided about keeping it, it needs recovering and estimates have been about £200.  Once we have the new bed the chair will not fit back in here so I need to make a decision soon.

Tomorrow we will be resuming our hunt for reasonably priced sliding doors – I am really out of touch with prices for furniture but the estimates we have been given seem far too high for a spare bedroom.  The ones we are removing were less than £90 from MFI in early nineties!  They have to be sliding doors as there isn’t enough room for opening doors in this room.

Well that is my update hope your weekend goes well.

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before and after a guided tour…

Remember Dolly and Ted – they have had their baths and are now clean and presentable and ready to invite you to have a peep around their new home…

This room was our younger daughter’s bedroom, part of the extension we had built above the garage in 1997, and pine was fashionable back then together with red check fabric and stencilled walls.   So this is a guided tour of the before and after.

I made the curtains from a duvet cover to get the look she wanted – notice how they had faded over time.  After she left home it became a bit of a dumping ground and a handy place to dry the washing.

We even had a settee in here for a while waiting to transport it up to the cottage.   I can’t believe it got this messy – I took this picture after Christmas one year – I obviously didn’t know where to put all the new presents!

                       Before we started we had a good clear out and now…

…it is light and bright – the walls are a soft grey called Amonite by Farrow and Ball and the woodwork All White Eggshell.

I decided not to put curtains back as I love the simplicity of the window and chose a plain white roller blind.  Little L, my granddaughter, will eventually be using this room so I wanted it to be inviting for a little girl to sleep in so there are a few toys about…

The new fitted wardrobes are from the PAX range at IKEA they are the 30cm deep ones with plain white shaker style doors and we added the white-painted wooden handles which OH lovingly made!

There is enough hanging space and drawer room for a few clothes when little L comes to stay

and the double side of the wardrobe is my new linen cupboard…

and I have designated one of the drawers for my fabrics and sewing projects…

The corner had an overburdened bookcase and became another dumping ground…

but has been pared down considerably to make this reading corner with a new smaller, lower bookcase and a couple of narrow picture shelves that display some of the most cherished books…

Remember the pine ‘samba’ style staircase that some bloggers told me they rather liked…

Nineties stenciling

– it leads to the mezzanine sleeping platform above…

well yes we did paint it and no I don’t regret it…

The carpet is a little too creamy now but we have laid it back down until we finish the other rooms after which we will buy all the same colour throughout the house.

Upstairs on the mezzanine –  the Lloyd loom bedside cabinet belonged to my mum-in-law, a definite keeper and so the colours had to work around this.

We decided not to paint the pine bed for the time being as you cannot really see the pine colour until up close.  OH made this bed in our first house in 1979 so it does not owe us anything only a new mattress which we will try to find in the sales.

The quilt cover is from Next it ties in the blue of the cabinet and the blue snuggly throw I found in IKEA for only £4.

I am pleased with the way this room has turned out the soft grey has proved to be better than paining the room all white and in some lights actually can look white.  It may not be to everyone’s taste but I love the clean spacious look – it is not too minimalist but I have been careful not to overfill the room.

So two rooms finished now, we finished the family bathroom a while ago, and only four more rooms to go upstairs.

Next on the list is the middle bedroom once the residence of my older daughter.  This will become our main guest room and will be mainly used by my mum when she comes down to stay.  At the moment we have a single bed in there but will change this for a double.  There is a considerable amount of decluttering to do in here too but having already started to rid ourselves of any excess I am quite enjoying all the new space.

Have a good weekend x

update for August…

Surprisingly, I managed to get down my pile of paper work though it took me two whole days and a lot of concentration to balance the statements, change mobile provider and file.  OH signed us up to a new gas provider EDF so we are hoping for savings there and better customer service in the event we need to contact them.   I also discovered in checking our accounts that more interest had been added to one or two of our ISA savings which was a nice surprise.

Once the finances were back under control I decided to turn my attentions to doing more decluttering and organising and have been spending quite a bit of time reorganising the storage in the bedrooms.

The new wardrobe in the recently decorated bedroom is now my linen store which has freed up space in the main wardrobe in our bedroom.  As luck would have it my younger daughter, who is in North Yorkshire, is moving soon to a bigger house so she will take a lot of the excess towels and linens that I have found and don’t really need freeing up even more space.

I have also assigned one of the drawers to hold my fabrics.  I was quite ruthless going through the fabric pieces and reduced the amount I am keeping to a more manageable level.  I came across a number of projects that have been hanging around for ages:-

  • A knitted cushion made by my mum but it requires sewing together.
  • A Xmas stocking that I found had a pin left inside lodged in the padding – this needed unpicking a little at the top edge – the pin removing and then sewing back up so I did this straight away and it didn’t even get a mention on my To-do list.  It took all of 10 minutes and it must have been waiting for a few months!
  • As we have 3 new family members now – the partners of each of my daughters and my granddaughter  – I need to make three additional Xmas stockings. I have the fabric ready to make them I just need some time to get down to doing it.
  • Bunting – left over from the wedding I have a number of cut out flags and I always intended sewing these together.The bits and pieces of fabric from the wedding bunting too small for flags will be used to make patchwork squares or strips for a memory quilt for my daughter.
  • I bought a set of tea towels from Sainsbury’s with hens printed on intending to make a tea cosy.
  • A silk scarf that I bought turned out to be a square with fringing all round rather than a long scarf.  I was never keen on the fringing so decided to remove it – a 10 minute job and now I have a new scarf.

 

and a pile of fringing!

So out of seven sewing tasks I did 2 of them within half an hour but I need to put aside some time to complete at least the cushion cover and the new Xmas stockings very soon.

Whilst all the sorting has been going on we have been putting the finishing touches to the newly decorated room.

OH made the wardrobe door handles as I wanted white-painted wood and IKEA do not sell theses without the free-standing wardrobe they go with.  The last coat has gone on and these have now been screwed in place.

He has also put up some narrow picture ledges for the books and pictures, cut down the blind and fitted it today – we have gone for just a plain white one and are not putting curtains up again – I like the simplicity of the blind – you might think otherwise when you see it.

For the time being we have put the old carpet back down.  Although it is 20 years old it is still in reasonable condition but the colour looks a bit too creamy now against the cooler grey walls, however, it will be better than having dusty floorboards until all the rest of the house is done and we have the same colour carpet put down throughout.

The duvet quilt cover I have bought is not what I had originally intended either – the one piece of furniture, besides the bed, that we are keeping in this room is a vintage blue Lloyd loom bedside cabinet that once belonged to my mum-in-law and it is something that I have always coveted since I first visited my mum-in-law’s house back in the seventies and now it is ours.  To tie in the blue I decided on a duvet cover from Next children range called Vintage Ditsy which features a very similar blue to the cabinet amongst the pink flower print.  I had not intended it to be flowery at all in this room – but there you go!

Rather than me trying to describe everything I will take some photos soon.  I am back at work tomorrow so it will be later this week. Promise.

Meanwhile here are some photos taken whilst at the caravan the weekend before last and a progress report.

 

We now have grass again on the seaside side of our garden – the contractors laid down new topsoil and grass seed once they finished the reconstruction of our stream bank – albeit complete with many dock leaves – but our main problem is with the rabbits eating our new plants.  We extended the trellis border making it wider to accommodate some seaside plants that we bought in the summer.  We are hoping they will seed and spread quickly and eventually provide a natural look along the stream bank.  We have had to put chicken wire around these until either the plants recover or the rabbits get fed up and move on to something else – hopefully the docks!

They seem to be leaving the Delphiniums in the Woodland walk alone this year and I have a nice clump of them  – some are still to flower.  I love this deep blue against the orange of the Monbrettia.

There is not a lot of colour going on around the pond at the moment so I might add some late summer / early Autumn planting to rectify this next year although I often quite like to have a parts of the garden that are just restful – the pond is definitely a Spring / early summer corner.

For bursts of colour you cannot beat Hydrangeas – this is one of my favourites and it really brightens up this spot by the daisy path.

Back at home I now have Sweet Peas to cut at last – I planted them late and so this is the first of them – a lovely velvety deep purple with a sprig of  – you’ve guessed it – orange Monbrettia – it colour coordinated so well with my mixed fresh fruits for breakfast today.

During my ‘sorting out’ I discovered some instructions and directions that I had photocopied to turn into care cards – see here if you are unfamiliar with my way of dealing with this kind of information – I have now laminated these and they can be placed where I need them to refer to.

Tomorrow is work again and it will be a day or two before I can get back to the decluttering.  My next project is to go through the boxes in the wardrobe in the middle bedroom to reduce the amount of stored ‘stuff’ and get the room emptied ready to decorate.  The wardrobe in here which has sliding doors is to be dismantled to make way for a newer version.

Back soon x

 

 

 

‘dolly’ mixtures…

It has been a busy week again since we arrived home from a long weekend at the cottage/caravan.  Work was particularly pressured this week but I now have 5 days off to look forward to with having the extra Bank holiday day on Monday.

Today I would normally have been cleaning but decided instead to tackle the pile of paperwork that has been breeding accumulated on the desk and get back on top of the finances.  I have a number of tasks…

  • Find a new mobile provider – (once again, as sadly Sainsbury’s gave up last year as a provider) and now Talk Mobile are pulling out of their pay as you go which cost me all of £20 a year!   I am not a phone user so not really worth me being on a contract and the best coverage at our cottage / caravan is Vodaphone.  Their pay as you go is expensive so I am looking for a cheap, cheap, and even cheaper contract.  OH has one that is only £7.50 a month with bundles or whatever but I am not sure I can get that deal now.
  • Decide how to switch my new pension investment  – finally our firm has enrolled onto the people’s pension scheme and I had the first deduction taken this month from my salary.  As with OH pension I want to invest in an Ethical fund but the first pay in is into the default ordinary one so I need to read up on the instructions of how to change this online.  Looking at the figures on the handout we were given at the recent seminar the Ethical choice is doing relatively well.
  • Check our bank accounts and savings and update them.
  • Check over the renewed insurance policy for the cottage – a job I hate doing but must be done.
  • Switch energy provider – Npower are now for the chop.
  • Filing – plenty of it!

Once the paperwork is done my next task is to decide what is going back into the newly decorated bedroom.  We have assembled the Ikea wardrobes which have been fitted out with shelving rather than hanging and will be my linen cupboard and also house fabrics and sewing projects –  this will take the strain off the wardrobe in our main bedroom.  We have also bought a set of drawers so I have to decide where and how to store the items I am keeping and what is to be displayed.  My granddaughter will eventually stay in this room so I want it to look appealing to her and have a place for a few toys.

I removed a bag full of soft toys when we cleared out the room – this little rag doll is the same age as my elder daughter – 37 years old.  I made her as a sample for a sewing kit manufacturer interested in selling toy kits when I worked for New Look Patterns in the seventies and eighties in Bradford – some bloggers may remember them as Maudella.  We were updating the toy section of the catalogue at the time and I had great fun designing and developing a selection of toys.

She has always been called ‘Dolly” and here she is having a leisurely soak whilst her clothes are in the washer.

 

 

Meanwhile bunny and Ted have been spruced up in the washing machine together with a few other ‘friends’.

I had to make the awful decision to send one or two to the charity shop to be loved in a new home – what is it about soft toys that makes this such a hard job?

When my mum comes to stay she has little room to pack lots of toiletries in her case and they make it heavy so she keeps a spare set of basic things at our house.  I have put them all into a little guest basket for her and added in a couple of towels, face cloths and scented soaps – looks much prettier on the shelf now.

 

We needed a new blind for the Velux roof light as the old one had rotted in the sun.  When we checked the price we found they are nearly £100 now for a ‘proper’ Velux blind.  We came across an ordinary blind reduced to £6 in John Lewis and it just happened to be the same width so OH managed to carefully remove the fabric from the new blind and fix it onto the winding mechanism of the old blind.  Brilliant  – what a bargain.

I shall reveal all soon – just not been able to take any pictures yet.

 

Have a great weekend – back soon.

the end of another day…

What a lovely day today after all the rain we have had recently.  My peonies are blooming at last and the garden is looking more colourful again now with the summer flowers appearing – there has been a bit of a gap lately between the spring flowers fading and the summer ones coming out.

I decided not to work tomorrow – Thursday is a bit of a flexi day at the moment until I can cut it out all together and leave my new team to get on with it by themselves, but presently they still need my input to keep on top of the workload with year-end now only 2 weeks away and the promise of reaching a higher target than last year and therefore a higher bonus is well in reach.

So I have opted to go in on Saturday instead – mainly because I want to make the best of the good weather and perhaps have a couple of hours in the garden tomorrow and to be honest I feel like I have exhausted myself this week and that I would be dragging myself in to work if I went in.  I will get twice as much work done with no one about on Saturday – there will be no interruptions and my brain will concentrate more in the quiet.

On the home front what can I say but the new fascia boards and soffits look very new  – but also quite streamlined – we have a fairly modern house only 30 years old – so it has improved the appearance to get rid of the rotting wooden barge boards.  We have had the ridge tiles re-pointed and an outlet put in the roof for the fan that removes the steam from the newly refurbished bathroom so now I can have a bath at long last – I am looking forward to that.

Next week it is the turn of the window people who will come and renew the double glazing units in the older of the windows we have – then the builder will return to do the re-pointing.  Meanwhile the indoor decorating continues alongside with hubby putting primer on the staircase in the bedroom – no going back now!

After work I did the weekly shop at Sainsbury’s.  Even I was shocked at the amount at the checkout – prices are certainly rising and unfortunately I have been so short of time to sit and write menus or look for bargains.

I bought a can of Brasso to clean up some copper rings I found in the shed and the little brass mister spray.  I should have known better and perhaps have waited to look in Wilkos or even a pound shop for a cheaper can but I have not really had a lunch hour this week to pop to the shops and I didn’t want an extra trip into town on my days off or to pay for parking –  that would defeat the object of getting a bargain!

When I finally got home and was fed and watered I rang my mum who lives up in North Yorkshire.  Unusually she was not in and I could not think where she might be – so how handy is Facebook – I put out a message ‘Has anyone seen Grandma?’ and within minutes I had a message back from my niece to say she was out shopping with them!

Tonight I have had a little catch up in blogland, relaxing with my cup of cocoa and pondering on the world.  Waking up today to the news of the latest tragedy of the London fire was shocking and has been uppermost in most people’s thoughts and conversations, another sad loss of life but even more stories emerging of people of all race, colour and creed pulling together and helping one another with offers of accomodation and donations of food, clothes and money  – such a staggering amount collected in such a short time.

Well enough of my witterings…bedtime beckons.

just a normal Monday…

In some ways it was a light relief (from all the decluttering at home) to go to work today – I got to sit down and give my aching feet and legs a rest.

At lunchtime and after work I had a few errands to run, two of which had become rather urgent – one being fill up with petrol as the light had come on the dashboard and the other was pick up a gift I had ordered at a shop in town for a colleague who is leaving to have a baby and today we had an email saying she leaves tomorrow.  I hadn’t expected that – isn’t Tuesday an odd day to leave?

I also had to return some unwanted items of clothing to both Sainsburys and Next – tops that looked far better on the hanger than on me – do you have that problem?  In fact I have been a bit disappointed with the choice of tops available this year – perhaps I am looking in the wrong shops but unless I have a trip to Meadowhall or the Trafford Centre in Manchester I have to make do with the limited choice in our main shopping centre which is Huddersfield.

When I finally got home OH had cooked the evening meal – Cheesey Leek Ramekins – I can take the extra he made for my lunch tomorrow with salad as they are just as tasty hot or cold.  I am doing really well now with taking a packed lunch but the ladies in the sandwich shop are missing my custom.  I haven’t actually worked out how much I am saving in total because I would have to factor in the extra amount I spend on my weekly shop for the items I buy to make my lunch.

The contractor started on our house revamp today (the outside) – although I hate plastic we have gone with new uPVC soffits and fascia but will keep our wood windows although the older ones in the extension need the glass replacing as they have gone misty over time but the frames are still good.  The guys replacing the glass are scheduled for next week.  When this is done we are having some re-pointing done on the brickwork and the top half rendered though we have just found out from our enquiry to the planning office that we need to put in for planning permission to do this.

The internal decorating is still going on – all the walls are emulsioned now and the primer on the woodwork ready for the top coat – that is all but the staircase, we left this until the rest of the room was painted to make absolutely sure that we wanted to paint it – and the verdict… we have decided yes we do – sorry to all those blogging friends who rather liked the pine!  I will warn you to look away when I post the next photo of the transformation which will be later on this week if things go to plan.

So all I have left to do today before bed is wrap the gift and write the card ready to take with me tomorrow – as it is quarter to eleven I had better get a move on and stop prattling on!

back home and back to work…

I have been back home now for over a week but not had the time to put pen to paper (so to speak), not that I have anything very exciting to say – life has just been rolling along in the usual non-eventful way.

I spent a lovely few days in the woodland garden in Scotland rumaging around in the undergrowth like a wayward squirrel but this was followed by a few stressful days on my return to work which has thrown up that question again of ‘just how long do I intend to go on working’?  I am a few years off collecting my state pension but to tell the truth I don’t feel I want to work to sixty six as life is short and there are new challenges I would like to attempt before I get too old and creaky!

So I am in deep thinking mode at the moment which has been robbing me of quite a bit of sleep.

On the domestic front…

We have a number of projects on the go – far too many – both at home and in Scotland.  I should have named this blog My Double Life or Coming and Going – some days I wake up and don’t know which place I am in!  We never intended to have 2 homes for long but the flood at the cottage has delayed our plans to move up there.

Here at home we are decorating my younger daughters bedroom to use when my granddaughter comes to stay. It was a bit tricky taking a decent picture and didn’t help facing into the light that floods in from the Velux in the roof.

 

bedroom makeover

As you can see it is looking quite dated now with the lacquered pine that has mellowed and yellowed over time and is in need of a revamp. My daughter and her friends loved this room with the mezzanine sleeping platform over the shower room accessed by a ‘Samba” staircase.  You can lay in bed at night and see the stars.

The other end of the room has a normal window overlooking the back garden.  The room is quite narrow only about ten feet wide as it is directly above the garage and laundry room.

bedroom makeover 2

Sometime in the nineties whilst at art college my daughter added the stencilling feature to the staircase but this is really past its prime now.

Nineties stenciling

So it will be covered up and all the pine wood painted to give it a whole new cleaner and fresher look and bring it up to date.  More posts on the makeover later.

In the garden in Scotland…

By the pond

I spent more time around the pond – cutting back the Fernery and clearing the water of dead leaves.  We added a plank on top of the two wooden posts I discovered beside the pond last time so we can sit there, have a cuppa, and admire the garden – I planted a few more Primula in and amongst the stones and transplanted lots of Foxgloves into the wild flower patch just out of sight of this photo.

I have the Fuchsias  to prune back at the edge of the pond but then we can sit back and wait for everything to grow and flower.